Why don’t we all just get along?

The outcome of the GE13 left a lot of us Malaysians, young and old alike, disappointed.

Perhaps the outcome was somewhat expected (and inevitable), but the means used to obtain said results was so blatantly shameless. Purported electoral frauds? Check. A post-election call for a national reconciliation from our Prime Minister (yes, the very person who blamed Barisan Nasional’s performance in the GE13 on a ‘Chinese tsunami’ and yet proudly proclaims the ’1Malaysia’ slogan)? Yep, check again.

Living in Malaysia all my life – nineteen years and counting – and attending a kebangsaan school from when I was in Standard 1 up to Upper 6, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to befriend and be taught by people of different races and religion.

I’ve had the opportunity to be friends with Chinese, Indians, Malays and the lain-lains alike. Has race ever been an issue for me when I’m making friends in school? No. In the end, it depends on the person. I’d rather be friends with a genuine person of another race, than to consider someone of the same race who’s mean and unkind as a friend.

Now, I won’t pretend that I’m completely race-blind (who is, really?), but the fact is that Malaysia has been pretty united, even prior to the introduction of a certain politically motivated unity slogan.

It honestly broke my heart, as a Malaysian – and an extremely proud one at that – to see our country so divided during and after the recent elections.

From the manipulation of the mainstream media and the spreading of vicious lies via social media, to the open display of racism by certain quarters that do not reflect the sentiments of Malaysians in general, no stone was left unturned. It didn’t help when a major Malaysian newspaper ran headlines that were disgustingly racist.

On the night of the 5th of May – well, more like the early hours of the 6th of May, but I digress – after the election results were announced, together with a lot of my Facebook friends, we blacked out (by changing our profile pictures on Facebook to black) to mourn the death of democracy in Malaysia.

Undoubtedly, it was a sad, sad day for Malaysia, and not just for the adults who casted their votes. It was equally sad for us, the youths, who desperately wanted a better Malaysia, but could only watch from the sidelines.

I wouldn’t say that I lost hope that night, but I definitely do not have my hopes up that the ruling coalition will suddenly change their ways – a tiger, after all, doesn’t change it’s stripes, especially not overnight.

But then again, it is not like me to dwell on the negative. It is in times like this where Malaysians really come together as well.

Remember that time when Datuk Lee Chong Wei competed in the Olympics, and we as a nation were practically glued to the screen, watching him battle it out with Lin Dan? When he lost the gold, we cried for him, with him… I’ll never forget how I felt that night.

Like I was a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than my small circle of friends and family…

It felt like that on polling day. We may have been divided about our political allegiances, but we all wanted the same thing: a better Malaysia.

On top of that, I stumbled upon this story in The Star newspaper. “Over 150 people dressed in the colours of Jalur Gemilang converged at the Lake Gardens here between 9am and noon yesterday for #SayaMahuPicnic, organised by non-profit organisation Random Alphabets.”

We may not agree on anything, but Malaysians are united. I genuinely hope that no Malaysian, under any circumstance, should allow any racist bigots to tell us otherwise. Or to convince us that their governance is the glue holding us together.

Let us not forget that we are Malaysia, so…

…why can’t we all just get along? :)

Ann-Marie Khor

Ann-Marie Khor is currently pursuing Form Six in a government school in Penang, Malaysia.

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